Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Spitzer Has A Plan. . .

. . .He's Just Not Telling Anyone About It!

If New York's Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has any thoughts on fixing what ails New York -- from off-the-charts property taxes to the great decline of the Empire State's suburbs -- they can be expressed in two words: "Me too!"

When Nassau County Exec Tom Suozzi -- for whom underdog is a gross understatement -- puts the issues on the minds of New Yorkers front and center, Spitzer's response, when he has one, generally amounts to, "Me too."

When Suozzi says that the sky high property tax is the biggest problem facing the average New Yorker, Spitzer peers out from his perch and says, "Me too."

When Suozzi says that the suburbs are being short-changed in State Aid to local school districts (upstate district's raking in some 37%, on average, in State Aid, while Long Island's schools see 15%, or less), Spitzer raises his hand and sheepishly echoes, "Me too."

Spitzer on Medicaid: "Me too!"

Spitzer on fixing a dysfunctional Albany (one that he has been part of for some time now, with little indicia of reform): "Me too!"

Spitzer on pension reform, restructuring the State's debt, and growing New York's economy: Largely, silence. But if Eliot were to speak, the words you'd hear would likely be, "Me too, me too, me too!"

Is it any wonder that the man who keeps his eye on the taxpayers' money, State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, has, through his recent report on runaway property taxes, all but endorsed Tom Suozzi for Governor?

While Eliot Spitzer touts himself as a reformer, the sheriff who cleaned up Wall Street (and we'll give him due credit for that) hardly seems like the guy who's ready to clean house in Albany, at least in any effective way as might conceivably impact on Main Street.

And speaking of Main Street, highly doubtful you'll find Mr. Spitzer ambling down the streets of Hempstead Town, Oyster Bay, or North Hempstead. Long Island seems hard to find on Spitzer's map, with his ventures east of his native Manhattan rare, indeed.

While Tom Suozzi has offered to debate the issues -- once again, front and center, in the public domain -- Eliot Spitzer continues to skirt them. No surprise here, given the Attorney General's seemingly insurmountable lead in the polls. Why chance opening your mouth and letting the voters hear the only words you've been able to speak so far? "Me too!"

There should really be no doubt in anyone's mind where Eliot Spitzer is coming from. He's the establishment candidate. The keeper of the status quo. The wunderkind of a Democratic Party that has, for far too long, been ideologically challenged, and almost entirely devoid of either new ideas or new leadership. That is, until Tom Suozzi, as anti-establishment of a candidate you're ever going to see in these times and in this place.

If you harbor any thoughts that Mr. Spitzer will bring reform to the stalemate of State government as it is and as it has been, let us remind you of the choice the Attorney General most eagerly and unreservedly made in selecting a running mate for Lt. Governor. David Paterson, a New York State Senator since 1985 (that's 21 years, folks), and the Senate's Minority Leader since 2002.

Not exactly what we would call the path to "reform" in State government. [We said this of Republican Legislators, so turnabout is fair play: If you've been up in Albany for two decades or more, you are more likely a part of the problem than you are part of the solution!]

Indeed, Mr. Paterson seems content with the system as is, evidenced by his refusal to delay, if not derail, the override of the Governor's veto of the troublesome "member items" (the so-called secret "pork" in the budget) lest there be full disclosure of how this money was to be spent BEFORE the expenditures are approved. [The "compromise" reached by the Legislature keeps the pork barrel closed to public view until 30-days AFTER the measures have been passed.]

Tom Suozzi sided with Governor Pataki on the blanket veto of member item expenditures -- as, of course, did all of the GOP contenders. Paterson joined his Senate colleagues in the override. And Eliot Spitzer? Not so much as a whimper, or even a quiet "Me too!"

It was just a few days ago that Tom Suozzi unveiled his property tax reduction plan -- or at least the beginnings of one -- formulated through an evolving consensus process that brings together educators, administrators, legislators, and John Q. Public.

So far, Eliot Spitzer hasn't said a word about his own property tax plan. Going forward, if pressed, we feel confident that Mr. Spitzer will speak up on this critical issue, if not making a firm commitment to the taxpayer, then at least to say, "Me too!"
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Click HERE to read the Long Island Press article, What's The Plan?

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